The proposal was simple but attractive and interesting. We were supposed to start a search for old lifestyles to see what things were like a long time ago.
On February 25, 2006, Esquel
started to commemorate its centennial anniversary. Ever since, the celebrations lasted until the end of the year and they had a special extra ingredient. It is not usual to turn a hundred years old; therefore, something more appealing and motivating should be done to catch everyone’s attention.
And, of course, the idea was to integrate all the generations that had been, still are and will continue to be part of the history of this city. The truth is that the City of Esquel had a proposal that turned out to be more than interesting both for its denizens and for its latest visitors.
This initiative lured the locals, as well as the tourists who usually visit the winter sports center. The latter came along carrying pictures of their first and latest trips in order to document the history of the ski resort, the fashion and customs of the old days, so different from what we see around today.
In addition to the contribution made by ski, this project has aimed at summoning all those interested in taking part in the celebrations by presenting some material in reference to the history of local, particular or family institutions. And besides photos, people may contribute with documents that might provide a context for the photographic material already being processed. The purpose of such endeavor is no other than editing a book titled “Esquel turns 100”.
Jorge Oriola, one of the persons in charge of the project, told us that, as a result of this project, all the schools in the city worked with the children to compile ancient as well as contemporary material.
This has caused children to see that their parents, and especially their grandparents, had their memories intact to remember a city that the young did not get to know or even imagine. Grandparents and even great-grandparents suddenly became real heroes that would tell them about ancient Esquel, the early twentieth century, the sceneries, houses, mountains and, of course, the first settlers.
History goes that the first expeditions around the area arrived in 1670 from the Pacific Ocean through the Andes Mountain Range and that they were organized mainly by religious people, members of the Jesuit order. It was not until 1778 that the colonists had a strong presence after Viceroy Vértiz sent Juan de la Piedra and Francisco Biedma to found forts and colonies in the Argentinian and Chilean Patagonia.
By command of the Immigration British Society, L. Jones Parry and Luis Jones explored the southern lands and, in 1865, the Mimosa brought the first Welsh colonists to the Nuevo Gulf. They settled down in the lower Chubut River valley. In 1891, the first families of these colonists arrived and became established in the valley named “16 de octubre”
(October 16), in the heart of the mountain range.
Before these colonists arrived, the surroundings of Esquel had been dwelled by Tehuelches
. Descendants of these peoples live in Esquel today.
Bearing in mind the size of Colonia 16 de Octubre, Esquel printed February 25, 1906, when the telegraph service started to operate, as its foundation date. Ever since, it has preserved vestiges from the past as well as the influence of modern times.
Thus, along with Los Alerces National Park
and La Hoya
winter sports center, this gorgeous and picturesque city acts as the go-between for a wonderful landscape of forests, lakes and cascades of matchless beauty, as well as for all its dwellers and visitors.
This generational integration proposal was completely worthwhile. It was an attractive way of inviting everyone to remember the past so that the youth would praise the former generations that made possible to reach this present.